Monday, 31 December 2007

Mary, Mother of God

H/T to the Western Confucian for suggesting we look at this mission in Vladivostok dedicated to Mary, Mother of God in anticipation of her feast day tomorrow and in anticipation of support and prayers for this mission.

The Vladivostok mission:

Bye Bye 2007

There are times when I wish I'd taken more notice of biology whilst at school. Physics is great but when has being able to tell a plasmon from a phonon from a soliton ever been of any real use?

Husband still hasn't got over the nasty invasion of his gut by fastbreeding bacteria, a picture of the critters is at the top of this page; know your enemy. The first set of antibiotics were working but didn't quite clear everything up. The bacteria mutated and we were back at square 1. New antibiotics are now being used. We are both shattered and a little fed up waiting to see what happens next. Chez nous will have to be renamed "The house at Poo corner" if this continues any longer. This has been a Christmas holiday neither of us wish to repeat.

It has been a difficult year in many ways, most of which are outside our control. Isn't it ever thus? Increasingly frail and needy elderly, finance, employment, the shocking rise is the price of fuel and food.....these are problems common to many of us.

I just don't know how I would cope if I couldn't say "God is good" and mean it from the bottom of my heart.

Bring on 2008!
Have a very Happy New Year, dear reader, you are in my prayers.

Saturday, 29 December 2007

The Lesser Brethren

This picture used to hang on my wall as a child in a not particularly religious household. It was given to me by my godmother (an Anglican) and I loved it. I found it again when going through some stuff at my parents house as they make a brave attempt to "downsize".

The Lesser Brethren by Margaret Tarrant

Now the frame is shattered and it is a bit faded. I thought about getting it re-framed but hubby thinks it is sentimental rubbish and "too much a Protestant representation of Jesus". But Jeffrey has posted this sublime painting on his site today:

OK, so there is 500 years between the two paintings but how is one "Protestant" and the other sublime? Just where is the divide? All I know is that without The Lesser Brethren, my upbringing would have been all the poorer.

Thursday, 27 December 2007

Pray for Pakistan

Please pray for peace and love in the hearts of those who are daily battered with insecurity and violence in a region that means so much to so many. Pray also for the dead and those left behind to mourn.


Someday perhaps, the poem,
murdered but still bleeding on every page,
will be revealed to you.

Someday perhaps, the banner
of that song bowed low in waiting
will be raised to its great height by a tornado.

Someday perhaps, the stone
that is an abandoned heart on the verge,
will pierce you with its living vein.

Faiz Ahmed Faiz (1911- 1984)

Musings on multitasking.

From the brainy blog of Lawrence Gage (Real Physics), this his musings on an article about multitasking. It makes very interesting reading.

I worry that my frequent inability to concentrate at Mass, is often a manifestation of my inability to "multitask" effectively. Some say it is because I have a "male brain", what! To concentrate at Mass I prefer to follow it in my missal and I find Mass much more prayerful if it starts with the entrance antiphon and not a hymn. The hymns need to be sung devoutly, and need to the liturgically relevant (I start wandering off course when they are not). I struggle with Fr's sermons because he's telling me how I should be praying and how I'm allowed to get angry with God. I'm not angry with God, and I start thinking about what he is saying and go off course again. I need silence during the Mass, but I'm not going to get it. I want to say the Creed slowly, very slowly...fat chance! Prayers for Madeline McCann, with no mention of the countless other missing/abducted children in the world (I get cross here and this is wrong). See, it's all me me me. How selfish I am because I can't take in all the stimuli of the Novus Ordo Mass simultaneously. I have a similar problem with polyphony during the Mass........

I've never been convinced by multitasking in other domains either, and the more I see of the education system, the more convinced I am that true understanding only comes with silence and singular concentration. Education in this country is all about the presentation of bitty, factual content with no depth, jazzed up to look good and be temporarily stimulating. Let's all be busy, busy, busy, it stops us thinking.

Thinking might just be dangerous!

Tuesday, 25 December 2007

Monday, 24 December 2007

A Happy and Holy Christmas to you all!

The results of husband's tests/samples have come through. He has had a particularly nasty campylobacter infection of his gut that unfortunately got into his blood stream too. Say a prayer for him, he's still very weak.

Have a wonderful Christmas, all of you. Keep the Holy Land in your prayers.
God Bless

Revelabitur gloria Domini: et videbit omnis caro salutare Dei nostri.

Thursday, 13 December 2007

And another thing....

I've had time to think. Too much time to think. Poor husband has fallen foul of the winter vomiting sickness and I've had to take time off work to look after him. Keeping him hydrated is a nightmare. Laundry is a nightmare; I'm not feeling half so pious as I usually do for not owning a tumble dryer. Still, this time away from the pit has allowed me to say the morning office as well as the evening office and that is a rare luxury.

Some thoughts on washing.

Does anyone else other than me hate fabric conditioner? What is the point in washing something only to cover it in slimy, sickly smelly goo? If I had my way sheets would be starched (I like ironing) chez Rita, but I'm not the boss.

What is this craze for washing powders/liquids all coming in pre-measured doses/satchets. Surely this is just a marketing wheeze to get us to use more of the stuff, spending more money in the process. I know how dirty my laundry is, I know how much soapy stuff to use.

Towelling. Yeuch! Nasty, unhygenic stuff. As a baby I had nappies shipped over from Ireland, beautiful cotton things, smooth cotton on one side, brushed on the other. Towelling nappies are just wrong. As for bath and hand towels, they used to be smooth linen, easy to dry, easy to boil wash and bleach and compact to store. Only the eastern europeans are sensible enough to continue with these.

I wonder if I'll be able to go down the pit tomorrow, I certainly won't be able to take paid leave...hmmm.
Other thoughts today are about retraining to become an undertaker. I'm serious about this one.

Friday, 7 December 2007

A Festive Meme

A meme from Autumn Rose.

1. Wrapping paper or gift bags?
Wrapping paper and cheap stuff off the market at that!

2. Real tree or artificial?
Artificial. I actually want the magical artificial white/silver Christmas tree our neighbour had when I was small. Her house was very "Abigail's Pary", and I thought it was dead stylish.

3. When do you put up the tree?
Christmas Eve as the local brass band plays carols through the village. Wonderful!

4. When do you take the tree down?
Epiphany, if my husband hasn't fallen over it before then and got a bit grumpy.

5. Do you like eggnog?
I prefer Advocaat, my grandmother used to make her own and it was very good.

6. Favorite gift received as a child?
The sewing box I still use.

7. Do you have a Nativity scene?
Yes. My favourite crib scene is the one in a convent I know. They've made and collected all sorts of tiny figures and added them to the adoration. The whole ensemble is covered with tacky flashing coloured fairy lights.

8. Hardest person to buy for?
Me, I feel very sorry for my family and friends. I can never think of anything I want unless it is some obscure tome or CD that they can't find and end up giving me the money to buy.

9. Worst Christmas gift you ever received?
Mum and Dad presented me and my sister each with a small velvet wallet one year when I was about 20 and she was 17. I exclaimed out loud, "Phew, that was lucky, I really thought you'd got us a car!". The pouch contained car keys and the car bedecked with balloons was waiting outside. Luckily, my sister was thrilled even if I couldn't summon up any enthusiasm (what a brat I was, I hear you say!)

10. Mail or email Christmas cards?

11. Favorite Christmas Movie?
Muppet Christmas Carol.

12. When do you start shopping for Christmas?
I don't plan that well.

13. Have you ever recycled a Christmas present?
Not as I can remember.

14. Favorite thing to eat at Christmas?
Well it isn't the turkey. I usually end up craving curry.

15. Clear lights or colored on the tree?
A few coloured lights and lots of lammetta.

16. Favorite Christmas song?
Gaudete- Steeleye Span

17. Travel at Christmas or stay home?
Always off to see the rellies ooop north.

18. Can you name all of Santa’s reindeers?

19. Angel on the tree top or a star?

20. Open the presents Christmas Eve or morning?

21. Most annoying thing about this time of year?

22. Best thing about this time of year?
The Lord Jesus, of course!
Thanks AR!

Thursday, 6 December 2007

St Anthony is a love but he's expensive

That's what my mother in law says. I don't care! My missal has turned up (at last) and I'm going to make sure his poor get a goodly sum.

Deo gratias!

Vocation (4)

It seems to me that in heaven my mission will be to draw souls, by helping them to go out of themselves in order to adhere to God by a simple, wholly loving moment and to maintain them in that great inner silence which allows God to imprint Himself on them and transform them into Himself.
Blessed Elizabeth of the Trinity

Maybe our real missions do lie in heaven. On earth, all is imperfect, fractured and bound by space and time. I am living very much in the world but being very much dead to the temptations and desires of the world. Oh, how I yearn for the cloister sometimes so that I could die still further and fully devote my energies to letting God live in me!

Deep down I am probably a stubborn, willful Carmelite, and not a particularly good one either!

So back to earth with a bump. Please pray for me. I am run ragged and thoroughly disillusioned with my profession. I am the only source of regular income for our household and I really want to give it all up. I curse the day my parents persuaded me to step onto the property ladder, it hangs like a millstone round my neck. Just what am I working for? My trials are "offered up" I can do nothing else, but oh boy, what a meagre offering!

Friday, 30 November 2007

Gosh an award!

White Stone Name Seeker has bestowed the Emmanuel Award on me. I'm flattered and it will reside in my sidebar till Candlemas! Now I've got to think who to award it to, Jackie Parkes, Autumn Rose and WSNS herself are all taken so it must be Mac and a virtual one to La Mamma, her blog may be down but she's still very much with us!

Incidentally the wonderful gargoyle is from the Roving Medievalist, who is back on form with a particularly hilarious post about us bloggers.

Friday, 23 November 2007

A self indulgent posting

I couldn't resist posting this sublime picture from the blog of Archistrategos.

Also, taking my lead from Andrew at Unam Sanctam, I too have decided to publish some very personal "thank yous".

Thank you, gentle grandparents, such incredible memories and lives and such an inspiration.

Thank you Sr M-C, for being there at the important moments of my life.

Thank you to the many memorable ladies who looked after me when I was young.

Thank you to the priests and religious who have guided and strengthened my faith.

Thank you Eric Laithwaite for inspiring my adventures in physics.

Thank you Godparents for the unconditional love and happy memories.

Thank you H Y for teaching me how to fight.

Thank you MCFC for making me appreciate the happiness that can be found in failure and the sadness attached to winning.

Thank you blogger world and you, dear bloggers for keeping me sane (and occasionally making me furious).

Thank you, dearest husband for being my soulmate and changing my life.

I also give thanks for my health, my strength and my patience.

Deo Gratias

Wednesday, 21 November 2007

You may find the photo distressing

Is it wrong to get nostalgic for the days when teeth had personality? In the 70s wasn't this man a bit of a freak for having a perfect set of tombstones? Now, everyone wants teeth like that.

Donny Osmond

Besides, I just don't find perfect teeth at all appealing.

English Teeth, English Teeth!
Shining in the sun
A part of British heritage
Aye, each and every one.
English Teeth, Happy Teeth!
Always having fun
Clamping down on bits of fish
And sausages half done.
English Teeth! HEROES' Teeth!
Hear them click! and clack!
Let's sing a song of praise to them -
Three Cheers for the Brown Grey and Black.

Spike Milligan

Besides, didn't our noble PM somehow become less convincing when his teeth got the Osmond treatment?

Sunday, 18 November 2007

Random thoughts.....

I'm totally unsure who I am going to vote for and feel the only way I can participate in the democratic process, (something I feel I should do) is to spoil my ballot paper. I'll just have to hope they don't introduce electronic ballots.

Why have medical professionals decided a 90+ year old lady I know, who has always been a heavy drinker (she is certainly alcohol dependent), should be made to stop? This is a very risky business and the benefits of this intervention are a mystery to me.

The psychological effects of using the contraceptive pill are not discussed or even acknowledged by most of the medical profession. The following scenario, however is one I know many women relate to: on the pill, enter in to a stable relationship, marry, stay on pill, decide on having children, come off the pill, neither partner knows how to cope with the emotional rollercoaster of having the natural hormone cycle in charge again, much marital strife, arguments, distress, couples moving apart from each other, don't recognise the person they married.....

Those lovely frosty mornings have seen off the last of the roses that were quite happily blooming in the garden up till then. I hope the weather doesn't warm up again, it is so refreshing to witness the seasons move on, something that hasn't happened much in recent years.

Has anybody else seen the delicate way blackbirds eat windfall apples, it is in such contrast to their gross manners when eating the worms and slugs in the spring? They eat them the way children will pick at a Jaffa cake, systematically and symmetrically picking off the tastiest bits until there is nothing left.

If we have to have a national curriculum, surely the only thing that should be on it is Eschatology?

Sunday, 11 November 2007

At Calvary Near the Ancre

One ever hangs where shelled roads part.
In this war He too lost a limb,
But his disciples hide apart;
And now the soldiers bear with Him.

Near Golgotha strolls many a priest,
And in their faces there is pride
That they were flesh-marked by the Beast
By whom the gentle Christ's denied.

The scribes on all the people shove
And bawl allegiance to the state,
But those who love the greater love
Lay down their life; they do not hate.

Wilfred Owen

Wednesday, 7 November 2007

You may be interested

There is a delightful blog, by a lady called Chris Laning, devoted virtually entirely to medieval rosaries. It is a mine of useful information. She hasn't posted much recently, the reason being that she has been producing a monograph on the subject. I suggest you take a look at her blog, and her monograph (which I intend to buy).

I'm not really concerned about the "Catholicity" of her blog, but I do believe she loves the rosary and has done much to promote it, which can't be bad.

Sunday, 4 November 2007

To boldly state...

I quite like Star Trek (TOS and TNG), but it is only fiction.

A Muslim of my acquaintance who knew of both my scientific and religious backgrounds asked me why I couldn't state with certainty that aliens don't exist. He said his faith allowed him to state with certainty that aliens don't exist. He implied that as a Christian I should be stating with certainty that aliens don't exist, somehow in his eyes our Christian notion of redemption through our God in Three Persons relies on the uniqueness of creation on earth. I was disturbed by this and remain so, particularly when the matter is left open to speculation by the religious hierarchy. A member of the Vatican Observatory has even produced a pamphlet speculating about alien baptism. Guy Consolmango SJ (the author of this pamphlet)has written probably the best ever book for introducing people to astronomy, Turn Left at Orion, but his speculations about ETs leave me cold, I wish he hadn't bothered.

Facts have to be faced, there is NO scientific evidence for the existence of aliens. We know the sun is a star and there are plenty of other stars out there each with planets but our configuration of rocky and gassy planets appears to be unique. Life could not feasibly form on a gassy planet. However our rocky planet seem to need the presence of a large gas giant, Jupiter, to protect us from the majority of possible meteorite impacts. This sort of arrangement is not found elsewhere (yet). There are no alien broadcasts out there and no real evidence of alien contact, though it must be remembered that a radio broadcast from a fictitious planet orbiting say the north star (Polaris) would take 430 years to get to us. Most stars are considerably further away than that.

The earth is a very special, unique yet insignificant place and to paraphrase Wisdom 11: 23 to God the whole world is like the grain of sand that tips the balance or the drop of the morning dew that falls down upon the earth. Scripture points to the small and insignificant as being of the most importance to God. Is not the Magnificat Mary's song of realisation that she is just such a grain of sand to tip the balance?

To me the beauty of the cosmos becomes more awesome when we see how small, insignificant and unique we are as humans and as individuals created by God who hast ordered all things in measure, and number and weight. Even if we are not alone, God's love for us is beyond our understanding, quoting from Wisdom 11 again:

For thou lovest all things that are, and hatest none of the things which thou hast made: for thou didst not appoint or make anything , hating it. And how could any thing endure, if thou wouldst not, or be preserved, if not called by thee? But thou sparest all: because they are thine, O Lord, who lovest souls.

The Hubble Deep Field view, looking further into space than any other image.

Friday, 2 November 2007

Blessed Matt Talbot

WSNS asked if I had any good information on Matt Talbot for someone in AA. I have a very old (20p) CTS pamphlet "The Story of Venerable Matt Talbot" and an excellent book published by Veritas called "Remembering Matt Talbot" by Mary Purcell.

Blessed Matt Talbot is a great helper and I know he brings much support to relatives of alcoholics who pray to him, I can testify to this personally. I just wonder whether some recovering alcoholics don't get a little jealous of his success or perturbed by his mortifications. Alcoholics don't often relate well to each others' addictions "yes, but his problem isn't like mine", or "he can't really have had a drink problem if he was able to stop like that".

I'd personally suggest that you go "straight to the top" with this lady and tell her to place her whole life, not just her problems in the loving, open arms of the Sacred Heart. There is nothing more loving and Catholic than that!

Maxim of St Bonaventure from St Anthony's Treasury

I will take my rest in the Sacred Heart of my Saviour. I will there watch, read, play, eat, drink, and treat all my affairs. I will there speak to His Heart, and shall obtain from Him whatever I please.

WSNS: Reply in the combox with your details (I won't publish them) and I'll post you the CST pamphlet for a borrow, if you want.

Wednesday, 31 October 2007

Favourite Saints

La Mamma asked about my favourite saints, I'm struggling to say in case I leave any out. I have to admit, I have composed a litany of saints for my personal use and I have also collected enough images on my computer to do a "slide show" as an aid to prayer.

You're right, St Rita is a favourite...but there are many more and I've included some blesseds here too. Some have become part of my devotional life after a chance meeting on the internet, others by recommendation, others purely by the immensity of their witness. I'm just wondering how much you can tell about a person from their list of favourite saints, does it say a lot about the things in their life that require the assistance of the Church Triumphant?

St Joseph
St Monica
St Augustine
St Vitalis of Gaza
St Anthony of Padua
St John of God
St John of the Cross
St Theresa of Avila
St Clare
St Colette
Blessed Juliana of Mt Cornillon
St Benedetta Cambiagio Frassinello
St Ursula Ledochowska
St Gemma
St Nicholas Owen
St Edmund Arrowsmith
St Ann Line
St Ignatius of Loyola
St Francis Xavier
St Bernadette
St Eugene de Mazenod
St Thomas More
St Faustina
Blessed Margaret Sinclair
Blessed Matt Talbot

BTW: I still can't find my missal (I'm quite gutted over this) and my job is still totally grotty, but my team (see above) are working on this and I know my prayers will be answered!

Monday, 29 October 2007

Not a good day...

It has not been a good day. I have lost my missal, work was really grotty today and my car broke down on the way home. I can't blame all those on jet lag, but it isn't helping.

So here is a link to picture of something a bit inspiring, mainly to cheer me up. The rederos of the Carmelite church in Antequera (Malaga Provence) Spain. It took my breath away when I first saw it; a Spanish baroque masterpiece in wood, all the Carmelite family are represented right up to Elijah summoned from this earth in his chariot. OK, the convent has long since closed, the church is in a very sorry state (dreadfully damp) and the rederos doesn't look like it has had a dust since Miss Haversham were a wee lass, but it is still mighty impressive.

The picture in the hyperlink is also for Archistrategos over at Tamtum Dic Verbo, a fine blogger who claims he has never picked up or even been nominated for blogging award. Well I think he is great, even if occasionally he is a little harsh, he is instructive, funny (the rat incident in particular), and deeply contemplative. In fact I'm giving to give him an "award" for the most baroque blog on the net. It is a very personal reflection of faith, he has an elaborate style and it plays heavenly music: you don't get more baroque than that. Or do any of you know of others in this category?

Saturday, 27 October 2007

Long haul flights

Afghanistan from the air

Flying is so unnatural. You are stuck in an isolated bubble a mile over the ground with a group of people that you'd probably rather not spend your last moments on this earth with. You are squashed together in an unnaturally small, smelly space (bring on the A380) being waited on by impossibly nice people with impossibly neat hair. You fly over some of the worlds most troubled places whilst the guy (mature adult aged about 60)sitting infront of you is engrossed in the film "Transformers", something he just wouldn't be bothered with at normal altitudes.

I wonder what the people below make of the planes that fly overhead. I wonder if we are some alien "other" to them, do we represent incomprehensible luxury, unimagined freedom or evil decadence?

Afghanistan is awesome from the air, Burma made me weep. Praying the rosary is the only real thing to do.

Tuesday, 16 October 2007

Confused of Clifton

This Saturday is the day of the meeting for the self-selecting representatives of Diocese of Clifton to get together and discuss the initial findings of the Bishop's Seeking the Face of Christ initiative. I will be in distant lands so will not be able to attend, though I would like to.

The Bishop's aim was to find the "vision of the sort of Church the Lord is calling us to be", the pdf is available from the Clifton website.

The document meditates on our shared vision through the following themes: "made in the image and likeness of God", "God in all things", "communion of God's people" and "revealing the face of Christ". We, the Bishop's flock, had been asked for our views.

I hope and pray that the findings (which I did my best to contribute to) make reference to the priesthood, the Bishop's document doesn't. I hope there is more than a fleeting mention of the sacraments and that they are mentioned by name, his document does not. It would be nice if the Eucharist was mentioned and its central and essential significance stressed, unlike the Bishop's document which doesn't mention the Eucharist once.

I do not intend to knock Bishop Lang or criticise his efforts. I hope that the less than transparent consultation reveals the desires of the Catholic community in general and not just those who speak the same language as the Bishop (his document is not easy to respond to), however I have my doubts.

Maybe I'm just a hot head, self-opinionated and with my own exclusive, selective agenda. I found the whole procedure very isolating, there was no chance of parish based, prayerful discussion on the document. Surely, the Catholic Church, through the sacraments and the prayers of the faithful is the surest way to find the face of Christ (isn't that what has successfully happened for 2000 years?). The Church exists to save as many souls as possible and to strengthen both the religious and the laity to "take it to the streets".

Bishop Lang's document is poles apart from the language and tone of the Holy Father, whose words so often make my heart leap for joy.

We must pray hard that God's will be done.
Saint Peter, Saint Paul and Saint Colette, pray for us.

Sunday, 14 October 2007


Autumn Rose has tagged me about Autumn, so here is my reply:

When does Autumn begin for you?
Michaelmas or less romantically the first time you have to use the car de-mister.

What is your favorite aspect of Autumn?
Colours, smells and the heartbreaking beauty of misty sunrises over the river Severn.

What is your favorite Autumn memory?
Gardening with my Dad as a kid.

What do you like to drink in the Autumn?
Tea, always, though I get a taste for Lapsang Suchong in Autumn.

What’s your favorite Autumn food?
Anything involving mutton. Anything involving apples and custard. Anything involving suet.

What is Autumn weather like where you live?
Musty, colourful and damp.

What color is Autumn?
Conker brown or is that Carmelite brown, those two favourite Theresas feature strongly in October!?

What does Autumn smell like?
Earth, mulching leaves, fire, smoke, fireworks, cooking, baking….

Christmas shopping in Autumn?
I hate shopping, why spoil a good Autumn.

If you could go anywhere in the Autumn, where would you go?
I'd be right here. It's magic!

Do you have a favorite Autumn chore?
No, but I do enjoy being in the garden at this time of year, though it's not the same since creosote got banned. Foraging for sweet chestnuts is good too, though this year the crop is woeful.

What is your least favorite thing about Autumn?
Kicking through the Autumn leaves and landing on a concealed dog turd.

What is your favorite Autumn holiday?
Do I have a choice?

What’s your favorite kind of pie?
Steak and ale with a suet crust.

Do you have a favorite Autumn book?
It is Winnie the Pooh time.

How about a favorite Autumn poem?
Digging by Edward Thomas

To-day I think
Only with scents,- scents dead leaves yield,
And bracken, and wild carrot's seed,
And the square mustard field;

Odours that rise
When the spade wounds the root of tree,
Rose, currant, raspberry, or goutweed,
Rhubarb or celery;

The smoke's smell, too,
Flowing from where a bonfire burns
The dead, the waste, the dangerous,
And all to sweetness turns.

It is enough
To smell, to crumble the dark earth,
While the robin sings over again
Sad songs of Autumn mirth.

Friday, 12 October 2007

Eid Al Fitr

I must say I welcome the letter addressed to various Christian leaders from assorted Muslim scholars and clerics.

Muslim's worship one God, we worship one God. This is not the same as saying we worship the same God nor is this saying we worship a different god. I bring to mind the words from Nostra Aetate: The Church also has a high regard for the Muslims, who worship one God, living and subsistent, merciful and omnipotent, the Creator of heaven and earth.

Out of the muddle of Babel, there seems to be only one appropriate greeting to my Muslim friends tonight, Namaste! ["that which is holy in me salutes that which is holy in you"... and yes I know it is a Hindu greeting, but that is the point] and may we be united in prayers for peace and reciprocated love and understanding.

Wednesday, 10 October 2007

No title...

This is a difficult post for me to write, but one I feel I need to write.

This post concerns Mary and my relationship with the Mother of God. I love to pray the rosary and do so as regularly as I can, I know she interceeds for me and is my most powerful advocate before Our Lord. It is just that I can't feel her there for me, like I can lesser saints. I can't picture her. Icons and great works of art don't help me. When I turn to her and ask for her intercession, it is literally with blind trust because I do not know that she is there.

So I try to focus intensely on her Son, because I'm sure that is what she wants me to do. It is not for the Son to lead me to his mother, though I know He gave her to us from the cross.

As a result of all this, I feel isolated from many of my fellow Catholics, who have such a beautiful, innocent, childlike relationship with her. I will not blame my upbringing for this, though I grew up in a household where Marian devotions were often referred to as goddess worship and scorned or belittled. There is really no point in finding blame. It is just the way things are.

This may be one of the reasons why, when I'm working with young people and instructing them in the faith, I'm so keen on making sure they build up a good relationship with Mary and learn to love the rosary. We all need her love and intercession, nobody needs the warped and damaged perspective I live with.

I'm hoping just writing this will help. I'd dearly like to be able to remove this post at some later date, feeling it no longer reflected my situation.

Saturday, 6 October 2007

I was 3% less swotty than Mac at school!

Got this quiz from Mulier Fortis, who beat me in it. I never came top in anything at school either! Nevertheless, I offer a gracious mantilla twitch in her direction.

You paid attention during 97% of high school!

85-100% You must be an autodidact, because American high schools don't get scores that high! Good show, old chap!

Do you deserve your high school diploma?
Create a Quiz

I thought it was closer to 50% concentration at school. Quite frankly, I found school boring most of the time. It was not a place where you were encouraged to think.

Dream kitchens....

Autumn Rose has been musing on the finer points of home furnishing in times past. She has a liking of all things 1940s and I can certainly see the appeal.

We currently have a kitchen problem. Our kitchen is horrid. The previous owners of the house hastily assembled a collection of second-hand units and cheap pine shelving to create a rickety, yet nearly functional space for the preparation of food. These units are built over the most ghastly vinyl floor covering imaginable (were it real wood it would be in Versailles or the Peterhof) and the whole ensemble is finished off with custard yellow walls and a "tasteful" blue flowery border. It is impossible for it to look clean. It has to go. As hubby so rightly points out, should we ever need to sell up, nobody in their right minds would want a kitchen like this.

My problem is I hate fitted kitchens. I dislike anything that looks designed to give the illusion of ease and luxury. I dislike veneer. I dislike gadgets. We have spent some hours looking at kitchens in various showrooms, yet nothing seems right for me. My parents even seemed ashamed of our current kitchen and have contributed large sums into a new kitchen fund for their troublesome daughter. In return I seem ungrateful and uninterested. Basically, I'm a spoilt brat.

Hubby jokes that what I want is a black leaded range, an ulster sink, a kitchenette and a tub and posser. The truth is probably even worse!

The truth is, I don't really care enough. Our kitchen works, I can cook in it; having something "nice" just seems like an excessive luxury.

Tuesday, 2 October 2007

Guardian Angels

I have a friend who some years back reached rock bottom due to addiction to heroin. Lying on the floor, unable to laugh or cry, totally sick of his actions and life, a figure appeared to him in the corner of his bed sit. A young man, tall, graceful and beautiful and wearing a First World War uniform. My friend cannot describe the look on the figure's face other than to say it filled his veins with a warmth that the heroin had hidden from him for some years.......He's clean now, and has got his life back together.

Prayer to Our Holy Guardian Angel from St Anthony's Treasury
O Holy Angel, to whom the mercy of Our Father in Heaven has confided me here on earth, may I never forget the gratitude I owe thee for thy unfailing goodness, the confidence inspired by thy generous protection, the respect due to thy holy presence! O constant witness of my daily actions, may I never sadden thy sight! Angel of peace may I never cause thee to weep bitter tears over me! O my celestial guide, I wish to invoke thee at all times! In affliction thou wilt dry my tears; in danger thou wilt bear me on thy wings; in temptation thou wilt preserve my innocence; in my falls thou wilt inspire me with repentance; finally at my last hour, thou wilt console me in my sorrows and introduce me to the eternal tabernacles.

Monday, 1 October 2007

Bunnies and Wraiths

When I was three years old, I was given a toy rabbit that my father nick-named "Me Me Bunny", because I kept grabbing it and wanting it for myself. I'm suspicious of Memes but if someone wants to know my opinion, I'll write. I'm just not sure I'll pass it on. It's all too chain letter like, not my thing. This one isn't too bad though and I have a great respect for Faccio La Mamma who asked me to do it, and I so don't think I'll be calling for the services of the "Meme Wraith".

1. Do you attend the Traditional Latin Mass or the Novus Ordo?
I attend Mass in my local parish, I happen to believe this is important, even if the experience can be less than uplifting. My parish is also rather remote. I love the TLM but it is a luxury and a self-indulgence right now for me.

2. If you attend the TLM, how far do you drive to get there?
I would have to drive 35 miles for a Low Mass and further for the full works.

3. If you had to apply a Catholic label to yourself, what would it be?
I don't like labels, but the word "loyal" is appropriate.

4. Are you a comment junkie?

5. Do you go back to read the comments on the blogs you’ve commented on?
Yes, though mainly to check my spelling, I'm a hopeless speller and I have a tendency towards spoonerisms which can be unfortunate. I'm the world's worst proof reader.

6. Have you ever left an anonymous comment on another blog?
Never "anonymous", but usually "Rita".

7. Which blogroll would you most like to be on?
Fr Ray Blake

8. Which blog is the first one you check?
Fr Ray Blake

9. Have you met any other bloggers in person?
Andrew at Unam Sanctam I know I've seen singing in church but we didn't have these blogging personas then. Similarly, I guess I've seen Mark Cephas Tan (Exsurge Domine)as a holy altar boy in the same marvelous parish. This isn't quite the same as meeting, I know.....

10. What are you reading?
For pleasure:
Henry VI by Betram Wolfe (the monarch fascinates me as much as the author irritates me)
The Stripping of the Altars- Eamonn Duffy (awsome, inspiring and upsetting)
Poetry by Edward Thomas and Louis Macneice is never far away and neither are the Psalms. I also endeavour to read the Mass readings for the day during the week.
For work:
You don't want to know.

Bonus Question! Has your site been banned by Spirit of Vatican II?
What is it? Is it like the spirit of Christmas, that awful invention of Charles Dickens that completely removed the original meaning from the event to which it referred. I only have one thing to say on the matter: humbug!

Thursday, 27 September 2007

O Deus, ego amo te!

Please pray for the repose of the soul of my grandfather who died in Penang yesterday aged 91. Pray also for the wife he leaves behind. I've printed below his favourite prayer, he e-mailed this to me in the Latin a few years ago, it somehow seems very appropriate now.

The prayer of St Francis Xavier
O Deus, ego amo te,
Nec amo te, ut salves me,
Aut, quia non amantes te
Æterno punis igne.
Tu, tu, mi Jesu, totum me
Amplexus es in cruce;
Tuliste clavos, lanceam,
Multamque ignominiam,
Innumeros dolores,
Sudores, et angores,
Et mortem, et hæc propter me,
Ac pro me peccatore.
Cur igitur non amem te,
O Jesu amantissime,
Non, ut in cœlo salves me,
Aut ne æternum damnes me,
Nec præmii ullius spe;
Sed sicut tu amasti me?
Sic amo et amabo te,
Solum quia Rex meus es,
Et solum, quia Deus es.

The translation is by Gerald Manley Hopkins SJ

0 GOD, I love thee, I love thee-
Not out of hope of heaven for me
Nor fearing not to love and be
In the everlasting burning.
Thou, thou, my Jesus, after me
Didst reach thine arms out dying,
For my sake sufferedst nails, and lance,
Mocked and marred countenance,
Sorrows passing number,
Sweat and care and cumber,
Yea and death, and this for me,
And thou couldst see me sinning:
Then I, why should not I love thee,
Jesu, so much in love with me?
Not for heaven's sake;
not to be out of hell by loving thee;
Not for any gains I see;
But just the way that thou didst me
I do love and I will love thee:
What must I love thee, Lord, for then?
For being my king and God. Amen.

Wednesday, 26 September 2007

Another fine dog of God

Cathy of Alex and Jackie Parkes got there before me, but this is such a good article from a Dominican priest in the states, I just had to share it with you, dear reader.

Domine, da mihi hanc aquam!: Kids These Days: What they don't want from the Church

Tuesday, 25 September 2007

Hounds of Heaven

Please visit the blog of the Dominican Students, the photos recently posted (sept22 and sept 23)have to be some of the most joyous I've seen on the net for some time. They need our prayers.

Monday, 24 September 2007

1+1 = 4

A fractal image

Having spent the weekend with scientists, and having had a dreadful journey home courtesy of the rail network, I got to thinking about the bizarre world scientists inhabit.

Take your average physicist for instance, basically he (the average would be male)lives in a world made of particles and waves. Particles go into making solid, liquid and gassy things, they bounce off each other when they get too close and they contain stuff. You are constantly being bombarded with air particles moving at the speed of a jumbo jet, they collide with you, with each other and with any object that gets in their way. Waves are things that transmit energy without transmitting matter, they can travel through each other, they can merge with each other, they definitely don't collide and rebound.

However, those fundamental particles we call atoms are mainly made of empty space, there is not a lot of stuff in them. Slow them down enough and they will behave like waves. Those waves of light, when they are emitted from atoms can cause particles to alter their direction just as if they had been scattered by other particles. Thus light has particle like properties, just as the particles have wave like properties.

So much for scientific certainty. Your description of the physical world as a scientist depends on what you are observing. At its most fundamental, a quantum physicist even lives in a world where 1+1 can =0 and 1+1 can =4, only on average does 1+1=2!

Why do so many scientists wish to live in a world where they are certain God doesn't exist? They don't even inhabit a world where their scientific certainties are certain and absolute. Scientific method, when stretched to its limits, produces a gloriously bizarre, anarchic yet beautiful world, and like a fractal pattern, the more you look at the edges, the more new horizons open up.

What of scientists themselves? They seem assured that their methods of inquiry are the most reliable, with a confidence a philosopher would not dare to entertain. Scientists quickly forget Gallileo made up data to fit his ideas, Millikan (one of the greatest 19th century experimenters) can be accused of dishonesty, smoothing over some of his more troublesome data and from antiquity, Ptolemy was a plagiarist.

Science is a very human activity and scientists are very human. Science prevents superstition and this is a good thing. Science is useful. Science can be beautiful.

Religion ignores science at its peril, but isn't the opposite also true? Faith provides a disciplined way of looking at the world that is both reasonable and profound, simple and yet full of mystery. Scientists should take it seriously less they wish to call their endeavour into disrepute. After all the world of the physicist is bizarre, illogical and counter-intuitive, precisely the things they dismiss religion for being.

Thursday, 20 September 2007

Feast of St Matthew the Apostle (21st September)

I'm at conference this weekend so this post is a day early.

This seems as good an excuse as any to do my Sister Wendy bit and rave on about one of my favourite paintings, the Calling of St Matthew by Caravaggio. This is a purely personal interpretation from one totally untrained in art appreciation. You are at liberty to find holes in my analysis.

I think the painting is awesome because to me it is the best representation of the Blessed Trinity I have ever seen. God the Father illuminates His creation, the light is not from a natural source like a window or door. God the Son directly calls Matthew (and Peter does the Lord’s bidding too). God the Holy Spirit is the look in the eyes of Matthew and Our Lord; all the loving, imploring and trust. The nature of the Holy Spirit is made clear. The Holy Spirit does not work through our instinct; Matthew is still instinctively fiddling with the money. The Holy Spirit does not work through reason alone as Matthew is still reasoning and you can hear him think “Do you really want me?”. The Holy Spirit is God and works with and through God the Father and God the Son.

What of Christ? He appears as a dark figure in the shadows. Perhaps this image is a little startling but it shows how we can be dazzled by false lights and miss the Light of the World. We are forced to ask ourselves how often we have failed to spot Our Lord and follow his calling.

What about Matthew himself? Fashionably dressed in such a way as to make him look a bit of a fool, his worldliness looks uncomfortable on him. You find yourself rooting for him to leave what he is doing and follow Christ.

What about the others in the painting? Some don’t appear to notice anything going on. One notices but doesn't seem bothered. One notices and although the workings of the Holy Trinity are not fully manifest in his reactions, you feel one day he could follow Matthew and follow Christ.

So real, and yet so mysterious. This is about as good as art gets.

Monday, 17 September 2007

Missing Blog

Terry Nelson and others have noticed that a blog of note is missing. Please pray for the writer of this blog, he may be very much in need of our prayers.

What's blogger up to?

Apologies if you use Internet Explorer, I didn't realise this site currently looked so crummy with that browser, I always use firefox, unless I'm at work.

I got bored using HTML some years ago, life's too short to go through all that again. I just want this thing to work!!!!

By the way, I stole the banner idea from White Stone Name Seeker, to whom thanks! It's definitely worth propagating that message.

Sunday, 16 September 2007

The angel at the Barrowlands preaching the Word
Twenty years ago, I was in my teens and doing a good job of being miserable. I was very distant from the Church and heading for some of the darkest episodes in my life.
My mum used to call my friends the “Bisto Kids” because we dressed like the characters from the old adverts. Clothes had to come from second-hand shops and the films we watched had to have sub-titles. Music usually had to be dour and needed immaculate northern, working-class credentials. We were moderately well-off and grammar school educated, and as such far too affluent to be in a band, we could never have any credibility in that department. Instead, we dabbled at writing “fanzines”, interviewing and writing about our musical heroes and sprinkling in musings on politics, poetry and consumerism.
We’d gone to Glasgow one evening and were waiting for the Barrowlands to open, to see some band whose name I’ve since forgotten. A watery-eyed, elderly local singled me out of the crowd and insisted on showing me the large medallion he was wearing round his neck. It was a gold and costly looking medallion of Pope John Paul II. Whilst my friends were sniggering, something strange happened to me. I felt very close to this complete stranger, I can’t remember what we said to each other, I can’t even remember if we could understand each other, but I felt I had so much more in common with him than with those around me.
I am grateful to that man for giving me just a little reminder of where I should have been. Life did get emptier and emptier, but that medallion twinkled away in the back of my mind and somehow I was encouraged to enter churches. Even though I could not yet approach the sanctuary or a priest, I could at least get as far as St Anthony and tell him how lost I was.

Conversation- Louis MacNeice

Ordinary people are peculiar too:
Watch the vagrant in their eyes
Who sneaks away while they are talking with you
Into some black wood behind the skull,
Following un-, or other, realities,
Fishing for shadows in a pool.

But sometimes the vagrant comes the other way
Out of their eye and into yours
Having mistaken you perhaps for yesterday
Or for tomorrow night, a wood in which
He may pick up among the pine-needles and burrs
The lost purse, the dropped stitch.

Vagrancy however is forbidden; ordinary men
Soon come back to normal, look you straight
In the eyes as if to say ‘It will not happen again’,
Put up a barrage of common sense to baulk
Intimacy but by mistake interpolate
Swear-words like roses in their talk.

Wednesday, 12 September 2007

Prayers for Priests

I was looking for prayers for priests and found these on the Prayer for Priests website, which I hadn't heard of before. The piece of advice at the beginning is excellent and the prayers are beautiful, I hope they are much prayed.

You must never forget that priests are, and that they remain, men.
God does not perform a miracle to wrest them from the human state.

The priesthood does not of itself give a person the power to do everything or to excel in everything. It is important to remember this lest you fall into a very old error that of dehumanizing the priesthood and consequently of setting the priest outside of ordinary life.

That does great harm for by thus isolating him, as unbelievers do, to the exclusive realm of ceremonies . . . he is deprived in good part of his reason for being. If men refuse to pass through him, he no longer can be, at least fully, their mediator.

Cardinal Suhard


O Jesus, our great High Priest, hear my humble prayers on behalf of your priests. Give them a deep faith, a bright and firm hope and a burning love which will ever increase in the course of their priestly life.

In their loneliness, comfort them. In their sorrows, strengthen them. In their frustrations, point out to them that it is through suffering that the soul is purified, and show them that they are needed by the Church; they are needed by souls; they are needed for the work of redemption.

O loving Mother Mary, Mother of Priests, take to your heart your sons who are close to you because of their priestly ordination and because of the power which they have received to carry on the work of Christ in a world which needs them so much. Be their comfort, be their joy, be their strength, and especially help them to live and to defend the ideals of consecrated celibacy.

(By J. J. Cardinal Carberry


By the late John J Cardinal Carberry

Keep them; I pray Thee, dearest Lord.

Keep them, for they are Thine

The priests whose lives burn out before

Thy consecrated shrine.

Keep them, for they are in the world,

Though from the world apart.

When earthly pleasures tempt, allure --

Shelter them in Thy heart.

Keep them and comfort them in hours

Of loneliness and pain,

When all their life of sacrifice

For souls seems but in vain.

Keep them and remember, Lord,

they have no one but Thee.

Yet, they have only human hearts,

With human frailty.

Keep them as spotless as the Host,

That daily they caress;

Their every thought and word and deed,

Deign, dearest Lord, to bless.


(By Cardinal Cushing)

O Almighty, Eternal God, look upon the face of Thy Son, and for love of Him Who is the Eternal High-priest, have pity on Thy priests. Remember, O most compassionate God, that they are but weak and frail human beings. Stir up in them the grace of their vocation which is in them by the imposition of the Bishop's hands. Keep them close to Thee, lest the enemy prevail against them so that they may never do anything in the slightest degree unworthy of their sublime vocation.

O Jesus, I pray Thee for Thy faithful and fervent priests; for Thy unfaithful and tepid priests; for Thy priests laboring at home or abroad in distant mission fields; for Thy tempted priests; for Thy lonely and desolate priests; for Thy young priests; for Thy dying priests; for the souls of Thy priests in Purgatory.

But above all, I commend to Thee the priests dearest to me; the priest who baptized me; the priests who absolved me from my sins; the priests at whose Masses I assisted and who gave me Thy Body and Blood in Holy Communion; the priests who taught and instructed me or helped and encouraged me; all the priests to whom I am indebted in any other way. O Jesus, keep them all, close to Thy heart, and bless them abundantly in time and in eternity. Amen.

Saturday, 8 September 2007

You have been watching ....

There is debate elsewhere in UK Catholic Blogworld regarding the merits or otherwise of watching the telly. The debate seems to centre around whether or not to renew one’s TV licence. In my opinion, choosing not to watch the television and not paying for a licence are two completely separate issues.

Firstly, regarding paying for the licence, I think it should always be paid where there is a means to pay. I know you don’t need to pay if you never watch the telly and just listen to the radio, but somehow this seems hypocritical to me. Funding for public service radio and television comes from the same source. I’m sorry, but those that piously say they don’t have a TV or pay a licence fee but spend all their time listening to the blather on Radio 4 are freeloaders. Television isn’t all bad. There is occasionally some good TV; some good and brave documentaries and dramas still get made. On the radio, there continues to be a fine tradition of innovative programming. It may not be to your taste but there is some good radio to be found on Radio 2, Radio 3 and 6 music, programming that doesn’t cater for the lowest common denominator. How does this get funded? Who is helping support innovative and talented musicians and writers and helping bring them to a wider audience? Then there is the World Service, it is provided by the BBC, licence fee money may not go directly into it but if other areas feel a pinch financially then this too suffers. The World Service is a lifeline to many and something we British should be proud to support. Then there is the question of getting cricket, the most beautiful game in the world, back to its rightful home on public service broadcasting, how can you have a say in this issue if you don’t pay your licence fee? It’s like grumbling about the government if you don’t vote. Please, think about paying for your TV license if you can afford to. You are free to choose not to watch the television or listen to the radio yourself, for others it is a necessity in the face of loneliness and isolation and should be supported. Of course there is the further issue of the accountability of the BBC and its programming……

Secondly, regarding the TV free household; it needs careful consideration. Will your children be able to relate to their peers or will they feel isolated if they don’t know what is on the television. Older children need opportunities to explore the world (real life and fiction) from many perspectives and whilst books and the internet may go a long way towards this, the television is also useful. I’m always surprised how many teenagers like Question Time, they seem to like and need debate and are interested in current affairs. Also, children need to become critical of the media. They need to be aware of what is not being said, who is being targeted, possible agendas and other points of view. We need to know our enemy, hiding from it doesn’t seem a particularly useful strategy.

Friday, 7 September 2007

Comrades, Brothers, Female Brothers....

Comrades, Brothers, Female brothers…..

I think this was the opening line from a spoof trade union speech from Not the Nine O’Clock News in the 1980s, anyway it always made me chuckle as an example of painfully inept attempt at “gender inclusivity” before the term became widely known.

I’ve been a grumpy old woman over this issue for nearly half of my nearly 40 years on this planet. Here’s a quote from Canada’s Catholic Register

TORONTO, Canada (The Catholic Register) – Eighteen years into a sometimes divisive debate, the Vatican has put a final stamp of approval on the Canadian lectionary – granting a recognitio to the inclusive language of the New Revised Standard Version (NRSV) of the Bible in English.

“That this has come is obviously a positive thing, not just for women but for all people,” said feminist theologian Doris Keiser, a lecturer in theology at the University of Alberta’s St. Joseph’s College. “When we’re moving forward in the world and allowing our understanding to open up, everyone benefits.”

Canadians have been reading the NRSV at Mass since 1992, when the first edition of the new Sunday lectionary was published with approval from the Vatican Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments. The Canadian NRSV lectionary for weekdays was published in 1994. It was only then that the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith objected to NRSV translations.

The NRSV uses inclusive language, referring to both men and women, when the text refers to people. References to God in the NRSV use the pronoun “He.”

In the Pauline letters, this sometimes results in forms of address to a group of people which reads “Brothers” in Greek rendered “Brothers and Sisters” in the NRSV.

Without the recognitio, Canadian Mass texts were left in the position of being the only approved texts for English-language Masses in Canada, but at the same time lacking final Vatican approval.

Oh, this is so wearisome. This particular set of changes doesn't seem too radical, but just how far do the feminists wish to take this? If there are two positives in this they are (i) God remains He as Jesus taught us and (ii) it should make impromptu inclusive language from priests more difficult to get away with.

At Mass, kneeling before the Lord, I am not aware that gender was/is an issue. As Catholics, as far as I know we have never had segregated congregations along gender specific lines and further segregation amongst women depending on the time in the menstrual cycle. The divinely inspired words we are listening to speak totally of love and that is how we are to respond to them. If we are constantly thinking about our own gender and therefore our separation from each other, then are we any better off than Adam and Eve being expelled from the garden? Men and women are loved equally by God, the language doesn’t need to have the poetry tortured out of it to show this.

What do the feminists want to do to “the Son of Man”?

Wednesday, 5 September 2007

Work is dangerous

Returning to work after a holiday; I’ve been staggered just how much going about my daily business gives occasion to sin. It is so easy to get into a quiet routine at home amongst your nearest and dearest, the world out there is so much more scary. Do any of these ring a bell with you?

§ Being drawn into gossip.

§ Embellishing a tale to make it more amusing.

§ Hearing casually dropped swear words and doing nothing about it.

§ Hearing casually dropped blasphemous words and not “tackling” the person who said them.

§ Hearing others tell tales about a third party you know to be embellished, but you say nothing.

§ Getting impatient with someone who may not be as efficient as you are.

§ Believing you have the only correct way to do something.

§ Deliberately avoiding people you don’t particularly like.

§ Thinking half the drivers on the roads are bigger numbskulls than yourself.

§ Believing you are indispensable.

It is very humbling just knowing how far removed you are from where you desire to be…...


O Lord Jesus Christ, Only-begotten Son of your eternal Father: You have said with your holy lips: "Without Me, you can do nothing." My Lord, I embrace your words with my heart and soul, and bow before your goodness and say: Help me, your unworthy servant, to complete this, my present undertaking, in the name of the Father and of the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.


O Most sweet Jesus, You are the fulfillment of all blessings. Fill my soul with joy and gladness and save me. Grant that your Name be glorified: for not to us, but to your Name are forever due honor, glory, and adoration. Amen

Prayers from The Sacred Heart

Monday, 3 September 2007

Oi be tagged!

Autumn Rose has tagged me so I've responded. It's a one word response thingy and it isn't easy to do! I won't pass it on cos oi don't know anyone well enuff in da blogsphere yet, being a rookie and all that...

1. Yourself: tired
2. Your spouse: smoking
3. Your hair: clean
4. Your mother: anxious
5. Your father: hypertensive
6. Your favourite item: crucifix
7. Your dream last night: vivid
8. Your favorite drink: tea
9. Your dream car: none
10. The room you are in: study
11. Your ex: what!
12. Your fear: caterpillars
13. What you want to be in 10 years: holier
14. Who you hung out with last night: 'ologists
15. What you’re not: bored
16. Muffins: yeuch
17. One of your wish list item: retreat
18. Time: evening
19. The last thing you did: prayed
20. What you are wearing: scruff
21. Your favorite weather: springlike
22. Your favorite book: Bible
23. The last thing you ate: apple
24. Your life: laborious
25. Your mood: irritable
26. Your best friend: Jesus
27. What you’re thinking about right now: priorities
28. Your car: untrendy
29. What you are doing at the moment: typing
30. Your summer: frustrating
31. Your relationship status: wonderful!
32. What is on your TV: nothing
33. What the weather is like: pleasant
34. When was the last time you laughed: recently

Friday, 31 August 2007

Matthew 25: 31-46

There is a cathedral city not too distant from here. The city, in common with most others has a visible and sometime quite vocal “problem” with homeless people. We were talking with the Christian evangelicals who run the outreach work for the homeless. They know where to find the rough sleepers, they will provide them with any essential items they require and they always take a moment to pray with them and for them. In a very non judgemental and matter-of-fact way an outreach worker told us that they have helpers from all walks of life and most of the Christian denominations are represented. Guess who doesn’t help; most of the Anglican groups (except the “smells and bells lot”) and the Catholics, I assume from the way he was speaking that they have been asked. He did go on to say that the previous, elderly Catholic priest in the city centre used to make up food each evening for the homeless and he had a regular clientele of grateful gentlemen.

I pass no judgement on any of this, just thought I’d let you know.

What price a life?

Read this article from the Guardian, weep and pray for those with the courage to speak out.

Chinese parents fight forced abortions.

Thursday, 30 August 2007

English Martyrs

Direct, we beseech You, O Lord, our actions by your gracious assistance, that every prayer and work of ours may always begin from You, and by You be happily ended, through Christ our Lord. Amen
Today is the feast day of Ss Margaret Clitherow, Margaret Ward and Anne Line, women who paid with their lives for undertaking the Corporal Works of Mercy on their brother priests.

May we pray for the many hundreds of people in China for whom this is a daily reality with similar consequences.

May we also pray also that the blood of the English and Welsh Martyrs will continue to inspire and strengthen the Church under siege in this beautiful land of ours.

Wednesday, 29 August 2007

Vocation (3)- So you want a Catholic Wedding?

I rekindled an old annoyance of mine the other week when I found a copy of Kahlil Gibran’s “The Prophet” on my mother’s bookshelf. A few years back I got very annoyed when a dewy-eyed mother of a bride read this out at a church wedding with a beaming priest looking on. I’m sorry, but it is adolescent drivel. I should know, I used to write stuff like this which has now thankfully been filed in the archives of oblivion. It is not a Catholic view of marriage let alone a Christian view of marriage, in fact it could be better employed as a teaching aid explaining what marriage isn’t.

This is the offending piece of writing called “The Marriage”;-
Then Almitra spoke again and said, "And what of Marriage, master?"
And he answered saying:
You were born together, and together you shall be forevermore.
You shall be together when white wings of death scatter your days.
Aye, you shall be together even in the silent memory of God.
But let there be spaces in your togetherness,
And let the winds of the heavens dance between you.
Love one another but make not a bond of love:
Let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls.
Fill each other's cup but drink not from one cup.
Give one another of your bread but eat not from the same loaf.
Sing and dance together and be joyous, but let each one of you be alone
Even as the strings of a lute are alone though they quiver with the same music.
Give your hearts, but not into each other's keeping.
For only the hand of Life can contain your hearts.
And stand together, yet not too near together:
For the pillars of the temple stand apart,
And the oak tree and the cypress grow not in each other's shadow.
This is my personal view on the passage:-
Firstly, we are made by God to know Him, love Him and serve Him in this world and be happy with Him in the next. Our vocation is our calling from God as we are now and for what we are to become. We have four basic states within this vocation: single, consecrated single or married or priest. If we seek Him with a sincere heart, God in the most Holy Trinity lovingly guides us and works with us and through us on our journey through life.

The first statement is “you were born together”, I’m afraid that reeks of predestination. God knows us and loves from the moment of our conception. In some senses He is a heavenly matchmaker, but aways in the context of our free will, and sometimes the 'right one' runs away.  We make our choices with our free will guided by God, we must then submit totally to the will of God for our salvation to be achieved through these choices. The passage does not show God to be intimately involved in our every movement, God is strangely distant in Kahlil Gibran’s text and this is just plain creepy.

“But let there be spaces in your togetherness” sounds at first to be a reasonable statement because marriage shouldn’t make us like David and Prue Harris-Jones from The Rise and Fall of Reginald Perrin who were always together, said the same thing and wore the same clothes. However, Christian marriage stresses the oneness of the relationship This is why a man leaves his father and mother and joins himself to his wife, and they become one body- Gen 2:24 and later They are no longer two, therefore but one body. So then, what God has united, man must not divide.- Matthew 19: 6.
It is the oneness that is divinely sanctioned in the marriage not the separation. Kahlil Gibran opines, “Let there be spaces in your togetherness and let the winds of heaven dance between you”. ABSOLUTELY NO WAY! We wish to be consumed by the winds of heaven, there is no way I’m going to just let them just breeze on past.

There then follows some truly dismal poetry about loving, drinking, eating , singing and dancing. Each time it is the separate nature of the individuals being recognised and celebrated. Each of the activities of the couple are for pleasure only, this is hardly a song of fidelity. If anyone can explain the line “but only the hand of Life can contain your hearts”, I’d love to hear from them. It sounds like drivel to me.
Marriage involves the promise of commitment to each other before God. It is a sacrament and as such gives us a foretaste of the wedding feast of heaven as the fulfillment of God’s covenant. It involves sacrifice; loving as Christ loves, even unto death. Marriage has purpose, it has common purpose (knowing, loving, serving each other and God, faithfulness to God and each other, and openness to fertility) it is not some random pleasure trip for individuals as shown in Kahlil Gibran’s writing on marriage.
When I’m feeling charitable, I think this writing is just harmless, sentimental cr*p. However, the number of people who read this and want it at their weddings makes me really question if they truly know what they are doing.
The Church has something so rich and beautiful to offer through the sacrament of marriage it is so annoying to me when it is obscured by this type of cheesy schmaltz.